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Perdue Chicken Commits to Improve Animal Welfare

News Section Icon Published 6/26/2016

Perdue first major chicken company to publish detailed animal welfare policy

Perdue has published their first detailed animal welfare policy disclosing both current practices and future improvements planned for their contracted chicken farms. This comes just 1.5 years after Compassion in World Farming released a video with whistleblower Perdue farmer Craig Watts exposing concerns for the way chickens were being raised under Perdue standards. Perdue is the third largest chicken company in the United States.

“We commend Perdue for being the first major poultry company to publish such a detailed policy on animal welfare,” said Leah Garces, Executive Director Compassion in World Farming USA.  “This announcement shows their willingness to disclose where they are at and where they are going in terms of improving the lives of chickens.  Time will tell what it will mean for the birds, but it is a momentous first step in the right direction.”

Since 2012, Compassion in World Farming’s Better Chicken Initiative has advocated for improving the lives of chickens. While we commend Perdue’s commitment to progress along this journey, CIWF will continue to advocate for the following:  

  1. Enrichment in all facilities with a timeline
  2. Natural light in all facilities with a timeline
  3. Lower stocking density of maximum 6 lb/sq ft in all facilities with a timeline
  4. Slower growing breeds of birds with a timeline and, during phase in, commitment to a leg health plan  

95% of all farmed animals in the United States are chickens raised for meat. The majority are raised in overcrowded, barren conditions with no natural light. Because of selective breeding for high breast yield and maximum efficiency, they grow unnaturally large very fast. They often find it difficult to walk and can collapse under the weight of their own bodies, and can suffer from heart attacks among other metabolic and immune issues. 

Highlights from their new policy include: 

  • Activity and slower growth: The policy commits to doubling the rate of activity of their birds within three years. Importantly, this commitment will work towards improved leg health and enhanced potential to express natural behaviors. The policy states that to achieve this, options may include using breeds of birds that grow slower. This is a critical acknowledgement, and Compassion in World Farming will continue to encourage Perdue to use slower growing breeds and improved living conditions.
  • Natural light: The policy commits to installing windows in 200 existing poultry houses by the end of 2016 (about 3% of existing houses).  The policy also requires windows in all new construction of houses. Natural light is critical for increasing bird activity. This is one of the highlights of the policy and we hope Perdue soon makes a 100% commitment to all existing houses.
  • Pre-shackle stunning (Controlled Atmosphere Stunning): The policy commits to eventually having Controlled Atmosphere Stunning in all Perdue facilities. We recognize this as one of the most important improvements in this policy. Compassion in World Farming will hold Perdue accountable to setting a date to achieve this within the next reporting period. 
  • Transparency: The policy commits to annually sharing metrics associated with animal care. CIWF commends this commitment to transparency and accountability. 

We hope that in the future they will make firmer commitments to giving birds more space, natural light, enrichment and slower growth.

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For more information, contact:
Nina Farley, Public Engagement
443-812-2081
nina.farley@ciwf.org